Find obituaries in the Houston, Minnesota, Baptist Church Archives

When one browses in the Swedish American church book archives, one will often find photographs, newspaper clippings and sometimes printed obituaries.  Below is an obituary for Christian Johnson found in the archive for the Houston (Minnesota) Baptist Church Archives.

You can find the obituaries by:

  • Go to app.arkivdigital.se
  • Select archive search
  • Select country: United States
  • Select U.S. state: Minnesota
  • Select Houston Baptist Church, Minnesota, USA
  • Open archive
  • Select the volume: Dödsruna

houston baptistHouston Baptist Church, Minnesota, USA (MN) Vol:9 Image 13 (AID: v902876.b13)

Some of the facts noted in the above obituary are Christian’s death date: February 5, 1911 and his birth date of the 30th of January 1818 in Kongsbacka, Sweden. The obituary states that he was a sailor and that he married Louise Redding in 1850 and emigrated in 1854.

This is an example of how many American records can be misleading when one is trying to jump the pond. While some of the information is correct in the obituary, not all is. In doing further research, we will discover that Christian was born as stated on the 30th of January 1818 but in a place named Asslöv in Tölö parish in Halland county. His parents were Gustaf Jönsson and Lena Svensdotter. His birth record is shown below.

christian johnson birth recordTölö (N) CI:4 (1816-1835) Image 150 (AID: v93627a.b150, NAD: SE/LLA/13427)

He married Lovisa Sofia Röding from Onsala parish in Halland county on the 29th of January 1850 in Onsala. He is shown as a seaman and is using his patronymic name, Christian Gustafsson. The obituary shows how Lovisa’s name has been Americanized: Lovisa to Louise and Röding to Redding. Below is their marriage record.

christian marriageOnsala (N) EI:2 (1849-1860) Image 7 / Page 5 (AID: v93103.b7.s5, NAD: SE/LLA/13297)

The household examination record as shown below gives a date for their move to North America in 1853. They are not shown in the moving out book for 1853 or 1854. Below is the household record.

christian household recordOnsala (N) AI:5 (1849-1853) Image 179 / Page 174 (AID: v93088.b179.s174, NAD: SE/LLA/13297)

In both the marriage record and household record, Christian is shown as Christian Gustafsson but once in North America, he changes his name to Christian Johnson.

Obituaries can be wonderful records to help to identify where one’s ancestor came from in Sweden but many times the information is only partially correct as in this case and it will be necessary to evaluate other records before jumping the pond.

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Moving Certificates between Swedish American Congregations

In an earlier blog (see earlier blog), we wrote about moving out certificates (flyttningsbevis) from parishes within Sweden that have been preserved by some Swedish American churches.

In some Swedish American churches mostly the Lutheran, the minister would note persons joining the congregation and leaving the parish in a separate section of the congregation book. Usually the section showing persons joining the congregation is titled, Reception of new members (Intagna medlemmar) and the section showing people leaving the congregation is titled, Dismissal of members (utträdda medlemmar).

When a person was dismissed or removed from a congregation primarily within the Augustana Lutheran churches, sometimes the person would be given a certificate of removal. These certificates from one Augustana congregation to another came to serve as a pass to the congregation that was active at the new place of residence.

Some of the certificates of removal or transfers are available for some congregations within ArkivDigital. Below is an image of the moving certificate for Anders Peter Falk and his family that is in the archive for the Council Bluffs Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iowa showing the family moving from St. John’s Church (St. John’s Lutheran Church) in Essex, Iowa to Council Bluffs in 1893.

transfer certificateCouncil Bluffs Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Iowa, USA (IA) Vol:5 (1878-1894) Image 7 (AID: v903227.b7) 

The certificate gives the date of birth and place of birth for all members of the family.

  • Anders Peter Falk born on the 27th of July 1838 in Vena (Hvena) parish in Kalmar county
  • Margareta Charlotta born on the 8th of June 1848 in Lönneberga parish
  • Anna Elenora born on the 22nd of May 1881 in New Windsor, Illinois
  • Ella Victoria born on the 6th of January 1884 in Essex, Iowa

The record also states that Anders Peter Falk emigrated from Sweden in 1854 and Margareta Charlotta emigrated in 1859. It also shows that they joined the church in Essex, Iowa in 1883. Note – remember this is a secondary source so all information should be verified. But this is a wonderful record showing where the parents came from in Sweden and some of their moves within North America. Unfortunately, not many of these records were preserved.

Whenever there are moving certificates either from a parish in Sweden or from another Swedish American parish in North America, you will find these volumes in the parish archives titled, Attachments to migration records.

You can find out if a particular North American congregation has a volume titled, Attachments to migration records by:

  • Go to archive search.
  • Select the country, United States.
  • Select the desired state.
  • Select the desired congregation.
  • Search the volume list.

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